Since joining the European Union, Romania has had to adjust its laws in order to adopt the pro-homosexual policies demanded of participant countries. While this is a relatively new change (think January 1, 2007 new), it means that it is no longer a criminal offence to be gay in Bucharest. Slowly that’s evolved into a general rise of acceptance that’s long overdue – But, Romania is still by most standards a homophobic country.
The general consensus of gay travelers and expats in Bucharest is that a same-sex couple holding hands in the street may still get some nasty looks or verbal abuse, but for the most part it stops there. Be aware, but stay proud.
Being Out in Bucharest
With the 11th gay pride parade having taken place this June, we can happily say that acceptance by the general public is finally the overwhelming norm. In earlier years, parades have been marred by violence against protesters, and even as recently as 2010 the city approved two homophobic counter-marches aimed at "promoting normality", although these particular groups were heavily supervised by police.
The parade, organized by ACCEPT – Romania's LGBT advocacy group – was attended by a number of foreign officials representing their governments, including those from Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Sweden. Gay Bucharest was there in force dancing and waving pride flags. Also participating, in fine style were a number of foreigners, both expats and tourists, who came out to support the event.
Getting To and From Your Bucharest Apartment
It's always best to organize these things before you go. There are plenty of hotels in the city center with varying levels of quality. One great option is to rent a little pied-a-terre, and immerse yourself in city life: Luxapartments offers you the best Bucharest apartments for both privacy and luxury.
Regardless of where you stay, do note that the cabbies in this country have somewhat of a notorious reputation. Fixed meters that tick up a USD150.00 fare are more common than you might think. So always use the taxi stands to avoid scamming cabbies. Be sure that you never take a ride from anyone that offers you one inside of an airport or train station – if you go directly to the taxi stand you can be sure they’re monitored and have regular rates. Before you get in the car, be sure that you establish the flat rate before you drive off.
Dining Out in Bucharest
You can eat well quite affordably here, so take advantage of it. With the currency conversion currently standing at 1 Romanian New Lei (Lei1) = US$0.25 / £0.17/ €0.23, you should be able to find a decent price if you avoid the obvious tourist traps.
There is a plethora of fine dining available, as well as cheap student-oriented spots that might be perfect for a quick meal on the go. Most restaurants could be considered Gay-friendly, nobody’s going to kick you out. It’s worthwhile though to keep in mind that you are visiting a hugely conservative country, much of which is staunchly Orthodox Christian, that is still adjusting to a rising acceptance of LGBT lifestyles. Public displays of affection should be kept to a minimum if you’re not sure about the restaurant.
A Vibrant Nightlife in Bucharest
If you missed the parade and all of the satellite events that came with it including workshops, drag shows, and parties, never fear: Gay Bucharest is still bumpin'. With no licensing hours, clubs tend to stay open until the wee hours of the morning. There is also no legal drinking age, although you must be over 18 in order to purchase alcohol. Depending on where you have rented your Bucharest accommodation, you should be able to club hop easily as the downtown core is full of bars that stand shoulder to shoulder.
Gay Clubs in Bucharest
Gay bars have sprung up since about 2000 with mixed results. Here’s an online source for Gay clubs in Bucharest, and here are a couple of our favorites:
Queen’s Club: Blvd Carol 1, #61
Tel: +40 721 012 100
Queen’s Club (used to be called Purple) is a bar that advertises right on the front page of ACCEPT and seems to be just about the most visible and well organized club available right now. With drag events, karaoke, and other special events coming fairly regularly, you're guaranteed a good time at this bar.
Eden Club: 107 Calea Victoriei
Tel: +40 726 577 898
Eden is known for great parties and really wonderful people. They have a beautiful terrace in the summer and it’s located in the basement of an amazing Stirbei Palace. This one is actually just down the street from a couple of our apartments on Calea Victorei.
ACCEPT (Romania’s #1 LGBTQ advocacy group)